If you are looking for vintage Alexis Bittar jewelry, then you have come to the right place. Here you will learn about the history, materials, most collectible pieces, and where to buy.
Jewelry designer Alexis Bittar turned Lucite earrings into an accessories empire. His awe of the artistic was the foundation of everything that he did. He was so excited about the first earrings, not even knowing that it would lead to the production of a 400-piece collection every season.
Brief History of Alexis Bittar Jewelry
Alexis Bittar was born in 1968 in Brooklyn, New York. His parents were university professors and antique collectors. He was an early entrepreneur. At age 10, he sold flowers from a cart near his home. In his teens, he sold antique jewelry and vintage clothing on St. Mark's Place, known as the “coolest street in New York” with its quirky shops, street vendors and lots and lots of tourists (aka customers).
While still in high school, Alexis became part of the legendary 1980s New York club scene which fueled his interest in fashion and design and, unfortunately, drugs and alcohol. He made a stop at the State University of New York at Albany, but didn’t last long. How could Albany compete with the creativity and intensity of New York City? He returned to selling antique jewelry and vintage clothing and partying, but not to the substance abuse. He saw the harm it was doing to him and his dreams. Influenced by the jewelry he sold and the antique collectibles of his parents, Alexis began designing his own line of jewelry.
Watch to see examples of Alexis Bittar jewelry:
As a child, Alexis had been fascinated with the sculptural elegance and craftsmanship of a piece of jewelry found among his parents’ collections, a 1930s design in Bakelite, and that led him to his signature material, Lucite. He bought his first block of Lucite in 1990 and sequestered himself in his apartment to learn how to transform it to his vision of unique, luxurious, affordable jewelry. He turned Lucite into an accessories empire—without ever attending a fashion school, with no education or experience in business.
He combined the tradition of hand-carving Bakelite used during the Depression and fused it with the techniques used by Rene Lalique, the French glass designer revered for his creations of glass jewelry, though he is predominantly known for his highly prized perfume bottles.
Alexis sculpted the Lucite, an industrial plastic, into any shape he wanted and into reflecting color and light. He could manipulate the transparent Lucite into being completely opaque, high-shine or matte, multicolored, patterned. He had an innovative creativity and a commitment to the worship of Lucite. Hand-carved Lucite bangles are his signature pieces. His designs included exotic flowers, animals, ethnic ornaments and classical motifs that incorporated semi-precious stones and metals into the Lucite.
In the early ‘90s, everyone who was anyone wore black, and there was Alexis with his super-bright, glowing Lucite jewelry. It was seen as “art as jewelry” or “jewelry as art.” Either way, his sales were off the charts, when he sold his pieces on the streets of Manhattan. Soon after, his line was picked up by Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, the Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, Harrod’s in London and Isetan in Tokyo.
He also designed jewelry for the fashion-forward television show, Sex and the City.
In 2015, Alexis sold his company to Brooks Brothers, who continues the handmade craftsmanship that Alexis started with every piece designed and sculpted at their Industry City facility along the Upper New York Bay waterfront in Brooklyn.
Alexis is now engaged full time in his philanthropic endeavors.
- “ALEXIS BITTAR” alone or in an oval or in a rectangle with rounded corners
- “HANDCARVED BY ALEXIS BITTAR”
- Lucite (first and foremost)
- Gold-toned metal
- Gold Plate
- 10K gold-plated brass
- Swarovski crystals
- Navette crystal
- Morganite crystal
- Druzy (clusters of tiny crystals)
- Freshwater pearls
- Faux pearls
- Lavender corundum,
Favorite Collectibles: Vintage Alexis Bittar Jewelry
Estate. This statement necklace was inspired by the Ancient Mosque of Córdoba in Spain. Layers of gold-tone chains are adorned with chrysocolla, smokey quartz and Arizona turquoise. Measures 16 inches with a 3-inch extender.
Before 2000. The double-circle pendant is fashioned from carved frosted satin Lucite, sparkly resin and a gold-tone chain. Necklace measures 28 inches; pendant measures 3 1/8 inches.
Alexis Bittar Parrot bracelet with sparkling blue rhinestones. Made of Lucite and gold toned metal, the clamper cuff has magnets that allow it to be easily opened and closed.
Glowy lucite bangels from the 1980's.
Estate. Geometric gold-tone ring with a large geometric turquoise stone embellished with crystals.
Tips for Buying Vintage Alexis Bittar Jewelry
- Perhaps because there are so many unique pieces and so many fashioned from Lucite, fake Alexis Bittar jewelry is uncommon. But still be cautious.
- If you are fortunate to live near a department store that sells Alexis Bittar jewelry, such as Nordstrom’s or Bloomingdale’s, take the piece in for authentication.
- Often, we advise that designer jewelry is heavier than fakes. Not so with Alexis’s. His Lucite pieces are lightweight, so that’s one clue you have in addition to the hallmarks.
- Study his pieces by browsing through the Internet and you are more unlikely to be fooled by a fake.
- Deal only with vendors who have the finest reputations and the most transparent business practices, such as return policies.
- Hand-carved Lucite bangles are Alexis Bittar's signature pieces, make sure to have some in your collection.
The best thing about jewelry that is a valuable collectible being made today is that you can choose which pieces you love, wear them, and be fairly certain they will be collector’s items later on.